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US shooting suspect left apology note

Shannon Lamb
Shannon Lamb

A US university lecturer told police he had killed his girlfriend at the home they shared - but there was no hint he had also shot a colleague dead.

Shannon Lamb called police on Monday, saying he had killed 41-year-old Amy Prentiss at the property on Mississippi's Gulf Coast.

In the call, Lamb refused to give his name but says that family contact information can be found on his victim's phone and made a point to say his "sweet dog" was there alive and probably upset.

When officers responded, they found a note that said: "I am so sorry I wish I could take it back."

The note written in all capital letters on a white, lined notepad, signed by Lamb, added: "I loved Amy and she is the only person who ever loved me."

There was no indication that Lamb, who was teaching two online classes for Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi, had already travelled 300 miles to its campus.

Police believe he shot and killed a well-liked history professor, Ethan Schmidt, 39, in the doorway of his office.

Delta State University police chief Lynn Buford said university officials heard about the shooting at 10.18am local time on Monday, and Lamb called the emergency services about killing his girlfriend sometime after that.

By the end of the day, there would be one more death - Lamb took his own life as police closed in on him.

At some point after the shootings, he told family members he had no intention of going to jail. Relatives relayed that information to the authorities.

A day after the school shooting forced students and staff to hide behind locked doors, authorities were still trying to piece together what motivated Lamb, who had not criminal record.

The details released by investigators as well as students and staff who knew him helped paint a picture of a talented but possibly troubled teacher

Police have not released a motive for either shooting. University president William LaForge said he did not know of any conflict between Lamb and Mr Schmidt but "obviously there was something in Mr Lamb's mind".

A book published by Mr Schmidt says in the acknowledgements he considered himself "so lucky to have such wonderful people to share my academic life with" - including Lamb.

Lamb had earlier asked for a medical leave of absence, saying he had a health issue of some sort.

Police eventually cleared the campus after the shooting and authorities later found Lamb as he crossed a bridge over the Mississippi River from Arkansas back into Mississippi, Cleveland police Chief Charles "Buster" Bingham said.

Lamb killed himself with a single .380 pistol shot in back garden of a home near his parents' home on the outskirts of Greenville, Mississippi. He left his car still running in the driveway.

Lamb started working at the university, which has 3,500 students in a city of about 12,000, in 2009 and taught geography and education classes. He received a doctorate in education in the spring.

He was teaching two online classes this semester, but an in-person class had been cancelled.

Brandon Beavers, an education student, said he had a class with Lamb last year.

"It was like that class you look forward to," he said. "It was just cool."

However, he said Lamb seemed agitated.

"He was really jittery, like there was something wrong with him. He was never in a bad mood, but he was real shaky."

Ms Prentiss was divorced from her husband 15 years ago but they remained friends and had a daughter who is now 19.

Mr Schmidt directed the first-year seminar programme and specialised in Native American and colonial history. He was married and had three young children.

On Tuesday night, about 900 people attended a candlelight memorial on the Delta State campus, including Mr Schmidt's wife, Liz, and brother Jeff Schmidt.

Classes resume today.